Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why Urban Trees Solve So Many of Our Problems

Official magazine of the Sierra Club
Photo by iStock/chrishowey
Trees cover an estimated 20.9 million acres of urban land in the continental United States. That’s 3,659 square feet of urban forest per city dweller—about the size of a not-so-modest four-bedroom house. 
But like housing, trees are not equally distributed across American cities. Studies have shown that there is a higher demand for trees in wealthy neighborhoods. Conversely, areas with a higher proportion of African Americans, low-income residents, and renters enjoy less tree cover.
The unequal allocation of city greenery means that many low-income and non-white urbanites are missing out on the benefits of having trees on their city blocks, which, it turns out, are significant.
If your street is peppered with Magnolias and American Sweet Gums, your neighborhood will look better, sound better, and be less windy. Trees in urban spaces suppress noise, beautify monochromatic pavement, and reduce wind speeds.
If offensive city noises do traverse the leafy canopy outside your window, you’ll be less stressed about it.
In 1984, healthcare design researcher Roger Ulrich conducted a study that revealed post-operative patients with tree views have shorter hospital stays than their counterparts with brick wall views, which Ulrich believed was due in part to reduced stress. Since then, numerous studies have linked verdant surroundings to lower stress levels.
Green spaces will also help bring your community together; they provide opportunities for hands-on environmental education and foster outdoor recreation. Even your grumpy next-door neighbor loves them.
According to a 2010 study by the USDA Forest Service, more foliage also means fewer felonies. Because urban greenery indicates that a neighborhood is well maintained, potential criminals believe they are more likely to be caught and are therefore less likely to risk committing a crime, suggested researchers.
And, of course, urban trees are awesome for the environment. Every year, city vegetation removes nearly 784,000 tons of air pollution and reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide by about 100 to 200 pounds per tree.
Shady canopies help reduce urban temperatures, which are often hotter than neighboring rural areas. Cooler days temper AC usage, so trees help you save on utilities and reduce your carbon emissions.
Water and soil quality will also benefit from a few Acacias on your block. Trees filter out some of the harmful substances that wash off of roads, parking lots, and roofs during storms, while also reducing surface run-off and flooding risks.
They help out animals and birds, too, by providing sanctuary from the dangers of city living. A 2010 study pointed to the importance of maintaining urban forests as refuges for migrating birds looking for food and rest.
If you aren’t sold on the environmental advantages, city trees are also good for your health. Tree cover mitigates ultraviolet radiation, which can cause harmful skin damage with direct sunlight. City flora has also been associated with lower asthma rates in young children and fewer instances of cardio-metabolic conditions.
Unfortunately, the racially and economically skewed distribution of urban forests in the United States means that not everyone has access to the health benefits that trees provide. This is especially problematic because pollution disproportionately affects minorities and poor Americans.
So, urban forests can basically fix a lot of our problems, but only if everyone has equal access to the social, economic, and health advantages of a little extra tree cover.
Convinced by now about the merits of urban trees? There are lots of ways you can help green-ify your city.
Talk to your local officials and city planners about building up your neighborhood’s leafy infrastructure. Urban forests are an essential part of our country’s infrastructure and, like public schools and highways, our government is primarily responsible for planting and maintaining them.
And if you have a yard, plant a tree in it. There are a ton of web-based resources to help you slect the right one. For example, if you live in a low-rainfall area, pick drought-tolerant species with the help of the USDA Plants Database and your state’s forestry agency. You can also try out a cool measuring tool like i-Tree to assess the costs and benefits of trees in your community.

1st International Environmental Youth Symposium 2015 to be held in Atlanta, Ga.

September 29, 2015
1st International Environmental Youth Symposium 2015 to be held in Atlanta, Ga.
Contact Information: Dawn Harris Young, (404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main),
ATLANTA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Global Partners will host the first International Youth Environmental Symposium at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center in Atlanta, Ga. on October 2, 2015. The theme for the symposium is "One World, One Environment".
The event aims to connect students and scholars from across disciplines and cultures to form lasting networks of research and governance. Together with current stakeholders from universities, government and the industry, participants will discuss the environmental challenges of today to find the solutions of tomorrow.
Who:                EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
What:                1st International Environmental Youth Symposium 2015
When:               October 2, 2015
Where:              Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth St. SW
Atlanta, Ga. 30303-8960
The goal of the conference is to provide opportunities for students, faculty members, administrators and other environmental and sustainability stakeholders, to develop partnerships, network, and collaborate on sustainable environmental practices.  The Symposium will also help to facilitate further dialogue among campus representatives who are committed to experiencing that environmental sustainable principles are woven into their campus community fabric.
The Symposium will host environmentally related speakers from the around the global (Germany, France, Brazil, and Ghana), academia, industry, and the EPA. The Symposium is open to academic deans and college and university faculty, students, government, and industry.
Please see symposium agenda for a complete list of experts and presentations:
***Interested media should e-mail an RSVP to or call 404-562-8421. Please include your name, media affiliation and contact information.
Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook:

And on Twitter: @USEPASoutheast, #‎EcoYouth2015


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cerasee Or Asosi: The Cure-All Plant For South Florida's Caribbean Transplants

Miami | South Florida
Nadege Green Sep 22, 2015
Cerasse vine intertwined with other plants growing in Cacheta Francis' North Miami Beach backyard.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
I was born and raised in Miami, but my very Haitian mom always kept true to her roots — especially whenever I didn’t feel well.
Have a sore throat? Sour orange leaves can fix that.  A tummy ache? Freshly picked mint from the backyard will ease the pain.
She is a believer of remed fey, or bush medicine.
My mom comes from a line of Haitian women herbalists from Gonaives, Haiti.  She learned from her mother, who learned from her mother, who learned from her mother and so on.
Her go-to cure-all medicinal plant is asosi, also called cerasee or corailee in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The plant pops up all over South Florida, especially when it rains.
To some, the wild green plant with five point leaves may be just an annoying weed, but to many in South Florida’s Caribbean community — Jamaicans, Bahamians, Trinidadians, Haitians -- it’s the "it" plant for just about every ailment.

Dried cerassee for sale at Grace Seafood in Miami Gardens.  
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
Dayana St. Fort was born in Haiti. She lives in Pembroke Pines and  she also grew up drinking asosi tea.
“I don’t think there’s a place that you would go in Haiti and say,  ‘I have a fever, I have a sickness,’ and one person won’t tell you, ‘Did you drink asosi?,’ she said.
Cerasee or asosi is typically prepared as a tea: Wash the vine; throw it into a pot of water --leaves, stems and all. Boil and simmer until the water turns a murky greenish brown. And that’s it.
A fresh pot of cerasee or asosi tea, a traditional plant used across the Caribbean for all ailments.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
Cerasee or asosi bush tea.
“It just doesn’t taste good,” said St. Fort. “It’s not even like cod liver oil. It’s worse than cod liver oil.”
The tea is bitter. Very, very, very bitter.
In North Miami Beach, Audrey Rowe stopped by her friend Cacheta Francis’ house to pick some cerasee growing in the backyard.
“This is where I come when I’m sick and I really need some old-time herbs,” she said.
Rowe and Francis are both Jamaican. Everyone calls Francis “Sister Francis” because she’s a respected elder. She’s 81.
Sister Francis is a religious woman whose backyard is filled with the healing bushes she grew up using in Jamaica.
"You know the herb is the healing of the nation," she said."The Bible say so."
She points to a green shrub with slightly oval leaves, “This is Jack’n a Bush.”
Across the yard is a towering shrub with yellow flower clusters shaped like a candle. “You can drink that one over there named King of the Forest,” she said.
Cacheta Francis poses next to her King of the Forest shrub, one of many traditional Jamaican plants she uses for bush medicine.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
When Rowe told Sister Francis she'd been breaking out in small rashes, Sister Francis said to come by for some cerasee leaves to use in a bush bath.
“Before you rub yourself with it,” Sister Francis instructed, “you wash it and rub it all over where the itching is.”
Some people from the Caribbean believe there’s almost nothing cerasee doesn’t work for.
But even cerasee devotees say some of the claims might just be old wives’ tales.
Rowe said growing up in Jamaica people used to tell pregnant women that if they wanted their babies to be born with pretty brown skin, they should drink cerasee.
She laughs, “I think this a joke.”
Still, cerasee is in demand, especially for Caribbean transplants now living here in South Florida.  In some Caribbean grocery stores and health food stores, cerasee is sold in tea bags or dried.
But because of the recent wet weather, fresh cerasee is practically everywhere wrapping itself around traffic signs near  I-95 and across fences.
People like St. Fort, who grew up in Haiti, know to keep an eye out for the trusted plant. She belongs to an unofficial club of Caribbean folks around South Florida who pick bushes from other people’s front yards and the side of the road.
She said, “Once you see this crazy woman on the side of the street picking up bush, you can say, ‘Oh, she’s from the island. She’s picking up bush to make some kind of remedy.’ ”
For more pictures and to listen to the radio version, go to:

King Tide Advisory from Mayor Seiler


Monday, September 28, 2015

EPA, USDA, Others Set Nation's First Goals on Reducing Wasted Food

September 16, 2015

EPA and USDA Join Private Sector, Charitable Organizations to Set Nation’s First Goals to Reduce Wasted Food

WASHINGTON -- Today, U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the United States’ first-ever national food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50-percent reduction by 2030. As part of the effort, the federal government will lead a new partnership with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste in order to improve overall food security and conserve our nation’s natural resources. The announcement occurs just one week before world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to address sustainable development practices, including sustainable production and consumption. As the global population continues to grow, so does the need for food waste reduction.

“Let’s feed people, not landfills. By reducing wasted food in landfills, we cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources, and protect our planet for future generations” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Today’s announcement presents a major environmental, social and public health opportunity for the U.S., and we’re proud to be part of a national effort to reduce the food that goes into landfills.”

“The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This announcement demonstrates America’s leadership on a global level in getting wholesome food to people who need it, efficient use of natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste.”

Food loss and waste in the United States accounts for approximately 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the overall food supply available to retailers and consumers and has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change. Food loss and waste is the single largest component of disposed U.S. municipal solid waste, and accounts for a significant portion of U.S. methane emissions, which fuel climate change. This large volume of wasted food is a main contributor to the roughly 18 percent of total U.S. methane emissions that come from landfills. Landfills are the third largest source of methane in the United States.

Furthermore, experts have projected that reducing food losses by just 15 percent would provide enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year, helping to sharply reduce incidences of food insecurity for millions. It is estimated that at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, food loss and waste totals $161 billion dollars.

Ongoing federal initiatives are already building momentum for long-term success. In 2013, USDA and EPA launched the
U.S. Food Waste Challenge, creating a platform for leaders and organizations across the food chain to share best practices on ways to reduce, recover, and recycle food loss and waste. By the end of 2014, the U.S. Food Waste Challenge had over 4,000 active participants, well surpassing its initial goal of reaching 1,000 participants by 2020. EPA is working with nearly 800 grocers, restaurants, venues, stadiums, and other organizations to reduce wasted food through prevention, donation, and composting. In 2014, participants in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge diverted nearly 606,000 tons of wasted food, which included over 88,500 tons donated to people in need.

USDA and EPA will also continue to encourage the private sector—food service companies, institutions, restaurants, grocery stores, and more—to set their own aggressive goals for reducing food loss and waste in the months ahead. Organizations such as the Consumer Goods Forum, which recently approved a new resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025, are helping to lead the way.

The United States is leading global efforts to address the threat of climate change. The first-ever national food waste goal is just one part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting our environment for future generations. Since President Obama took office in 2009, the United States has
increased solar generation by more than ten-fold, tripled electricity production from wind power, and reduced greenhouse gas pollution in the United States to its lowest levels in nearly 20 years. By setting achievable environmental goals, this Administration is making strides to help boost the economy and protect the health of American families for the long-term.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:  EPA and USDA Join Private Sector, Charitable Organizations to Set Nation’s First Goals to Reduce Wasted Food

A wide array of voices from across the food chain applauded the announcement of the first national standards for food waste reduction. Here’s what they had to say:

Deborah Hecker, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Sodexo North America
“Most people don’t realize how much food they waste every day. As the 18th largest employer in the world, Sodexo is committed to identifying sustainable holistic solutions that reduce or repurpose food that would otherwise be wasted.  We are proud of our longstanding relationships with the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture and look forward to working with them on a greater scale to address this issue with the release of the food waste reduction goals.”

Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO, Food Marketing Institute
“Food retailers are community minded, neighborhood focused and intimately connected to the lives of their shoppers; as such they work closely with their customers on those issues touching both the heart strings and the purse strings. Reducing food waste at all levels in the food chain - farm, factory, store and home - is certainly one of those issues with economic and emotional appeal.”

Jeremy Kranowitz, Executive Director, Sustainable America
“Sustainable America has a goal to increase food availability by 50% by 2035, and we see reducing the amount of wasted food as a major part of the solution. We commend the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership and collaborative focus on this critical issue.”

Craig Hanson, Global Director of Food, Forests, and Water, World Resources Institute
“The first ever U.S. national goal on food waste reduction will bring multiple benefits for food security, natural resources, and the economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency are showing leadership by announcing a national goal that will ensure more food gets from the farm to the fork and will save consumers money. The new U.S. national goal is also consistent with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 that focuses on food loss and waste reduction.”

Jonathan Mayes, Senior Vice President, Albertsons
“Reducing food waste is an important priority for Albertsons Companies. As part of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, we are focused on source reduction as well as providing food to other good causes such as hunger relief organizations and animal feed.”

Jilly Stephens, Executive Director, City Harvest
“City Harvest appreciates the inclusion of hunger relief groups as part of this national goal to combat food waste. Over 49 million Americans live in food insecure households, including nearly 1 in 5 New Yorkers, and yet 31% of our country’s food supply is wasted.  Food rescue is an important way that we can help bridge the gap between the manufacturers, producers, distributors, and consumers who have too much food and our neighbors who are struggling to put meals on their tables regularly.”

Jason Ackerman, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, FreshDirect
“FreshDirect is pleased to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on this initiative. Reducing food waste is a significant issue facing food retailers. Our work with community partners like City Harvest to reduce food loss can be a model for others, but clearly more can be done. FreshDirect is proud to stand with President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on this important initiative.”

Eric Ripert, Chef and Co-owner of Le Bernardin and Vice Chairman, City Harvest Board of Directors
“At Le Bernardin we have donated food to City Harvest for nearly 20 years. We recognize that the great amount of excess food in our country can be used to feed hungry Americans and reduce food waste at the same time. Setting a national goal for food waste reduction is an important step to help address many issues and we are proud to stand with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency in this new initiative.”

Erin Fitzgerald Sexson, Senior Vice President, Global Sustainability for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
“Under the leadership of the nation’s dairy farmers, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is working to promote a more sustainable food system. Recognizing that food recovery is an important approach for addressing hunger, safeguarding the environment and reducing costs, we applaud the establishment of a national goal for food waste reduction. Likewise, dairy farms and businesses are making public commitments to measure, reduce, recover and recycle food waste, including participation in the Environmental Protection Agency Food Recovery Challenge and the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.”

Bill Thomas, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Feeding America
“Feeding America applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the significant food waste reduction goal announced today. As a leader in the recovery and donation of nutritious food to feed struggling Americans, our network of food banks and food rescue organizations have firsthand knowledge of the challenges involved in reducing food waste. We are excited to work with the U.S. Department of


Thursday, September 24, 2015

10 more trees on your street could make you feel 7 years younger

Mature trees line the street in Park Estates in Long Beach.  (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
July 23, 2015
Leafy, tree-lined streets aren't just good for property values; they may also be good for your health, according to a new report.
The study in the journal Scientific Reports also found that residents of neighborhoods with higher tree density are less likely to have cardio-metabolic conditions like hypertension, obesity and diabetes. 
And it's not just that the well-to-do who live on tree-lined streets can afford a healthier lifestyle. The researchers controlled for demographic and socioeconomic factors and found that living near trees still had an effect on one's perception of health and overall health.
"These effects are independent of how much money people make," said Marc Berman, director of the Environmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Chicago, and the senior author of the paper. "Wealthy neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods with trees seem to have better health."
The tree data in the study came from the Toronto city government, which has cataloged every single tree on public land, including the species of the tree and its size. The researchers also looked at satellite data with a half-meter resolution to see how much of the tree canopy in any given neighborhood came from backyard trees.
The health and socioeconomic data came from the Ontario Health Study and included more than 30,000 residents in Toronto. 
Toronto was of particular interest to the research team because it is in Canada -- a country with universal healthcare. Therefore, whether a person has money should not affect his or her ability to get medical attention.
They note that in a country that does not have universal healthcare, having an extra $10,000 a year might have more of an effect on a person's health than living near trees. 
Although the study found a strong correlation between living on a tree-lined street and health, the researchers still don't know why.
"Trees remove pollutants from the air, so it could be the cleaner air, or it could be that adding more trees on the street encourages people to go outside and exercise more," Berman said. "Or it could be that the environment is more beautiful, and that contributes to health."
It is also possible that healthier people choose to live in neighborhoods with more trees.
"Our data is correlational, so we can't say trees are causing better health; we can only say they are associated with better health," he said. 
Berman and his team have calculated that it takes $500 to $3,000 to add 10 new trees to a single city block, which city planners might see as a pretty good investment.
"Greening the face of a city has real economic benefits," he said. "We already know it's good for air quality, property values, controlling water, and now we are showing it's good for health too."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Florida Panther Sighting

Florida panther photographed in Hendry County.       Photo by Donna McMurrer
Donna McMurrer got the surprise of her life on the morning of August 16 while birding in Hendry County. She heard some rustling in a grove nearby and looked over to see a male Florida panther staring directly at her. She heard more sounds coming from the grove, and out walked a female Florida panther. The mating pair remained in the area for about 10 minutes, and Donna took these amazing photos and submitted them to the FWC's panther sighting registry (

Florida panther mating pair photographed in Hendry County.     Photo by Donna McMurrer
FWC panther biologist Dave Onorato contacted Donna via email on August 21 and had this to say about her amazing encounter: "It really makes our jobs rewarding when we hear someone that excited about seeing a Florida panther. Those of us that have been working with panthers for 10, 20, 30 years have yet to be so lucky. We really appreciate you sharing these photos with us." Donna could not contain her excitement, and from speaking with her it's clear that this is a moment she will remember for the rest of her life. To learn more about our panther research and conservation efforts and to purchase a panther license plate, visit:
Another photo can be seen on our new Instagram page! Follow us @FWCResearch.
Florida panther photographed in Hendry County.       Photo by Donna McMurrer

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lawn-Less Yard Solutions

By Jeanne Huber, This Old House magazine
Photo:  Karen Bussolini
Major Curb Appeal
Less lawn can result in outdoor living spaces that demand less of your time and energy—not to mention less water, gas, and electricity. Fall's cooler temperatures make now a good time to set the wheels in motion for a new and improved yard.

Less-lawn solution: If you live where every house flaunts an immaculate, weed-free front lawn, giving up grass entirely might read as an act of rebellion. But you can gradually shift toward a front yard that's more garden than lawn by establishing deep planting beds that curve along the front and sides of the house.

Experiment with designs by laying out garden hose in a gentle curve, then bring out the mower and test to make sure that whatever lawn remains takes a shape that's easy to trim. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, also factor in the area that individual sprinkler heads spray: Plug heads you don't need, or convert them to supply a water-efficient drip irrigation system for the new planting beds. Your yard will be lushly planted—and easy to maintain—if you add wide borders with low-care perennials and shrubs to the mix.
Photo:  Karen Bussolini
Outdoor Living and Dining Space
Less-lawn solution: Transform a well-defined area close to the house by trading turf grass for a dry-laid brick patio or a patch of gravel with outdoor furniture. Just be sure to choose permeable paving that allows water to percolate through (not a broad expanse of concrete), so you don't create a parking lot–type yard where rain collects in puddles and storm drains instead of returning to the soil.

Define the space with a low wall, a perimeter of planting beds, or a collection of container plantings. Create an inviting path from one area of the yard to another with flagstone pavers: By tucking spreading, tread-friendly groundcovers like creeping thyme into the crevices, you'll create a rock-garden feeling and cut down on watering
Photo:  Keller & Keller
Play Areas for Kids to Explore
Less-lawn solution: For many kids today, what's missing from their lives isn't a play structure or a sports field (parks and after-school activities offer plenty of that), but the chance for a one-on-one connection with nature. In that sense, a small flower or vegetable garden or, for older kids, a backyard pond that supports fish, frogs, or other wetland creatures can provide more lasting play value than a lawn alone. A low, freestanding deck connected to the rest of the yard with paths that wind among shrubs can serve as a base for forts or a stage for plays.

For toddlers, an oversize sandbox is a great choice. Cover it with bird netting, rather than plastic sheeting, between uses to keep cats and other critters from using it as a litter box while permitting sunlight, a natural sanitizer, to reach the sand.
Photo:  Garden Picture Library
Habitat for Birds, Bees, and Butterflies
Less-lawn solution: Outside a kitchen or home-office window, position shrubs that provide food and cover for birds, such as highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), common spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and viburnum varieties. Add a small water feature—a birdbath or fountain—as the focal point. Then, when you want a distraction from the mundane tasks, you can watch the wildlife.

If you have the space, establishing a "minimeadow" as a border or boundary area is another effective way to attract birds, as well as beneficial insects. Native plants like goldenrod, sunflower, and coneflower supply nectar for butterflies and, in fall, produce seeds for birds to enjoy. Make sure you have a sunny site—and can tolerate a weedy look at the edge of your property. Check that you won't run head-on into local ordinances or subdivision rules that require lawns to be mowed to a certain height. At American Meadows, you can find seed mix custom-blended for your part of the country. Watching what happens is part of the fun. Cornflower, cosmos, and other annuals typically grow quickly and put on a great show the first year; then perennials come on stronger and eventually take over.
Photo:  Saxon Holt
Green Carpet That's Not Grass
Less-lawn solution: If you crave the open look of a lush lawn, low-growing groundcovers may be your best alternative. TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook warns that many low-growing groundcovers are sold as small plants, and establishing them over a large area can be costly. So he often uses higher-growing groundcovers along the edges or creates a patchwork quilt that mixes high-growing types (such as sweet woodruff, or Galium odoratum, and ferns) with low growers. He favors bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) on sandy sites and junipers in sunny spots; where it's okay for plants to die back in winter, he often plants hostas.

Foot-traffic-friendly groundcovers that compete well with weeds and stay relatively short without mowing include mat-forming creeping thyme, grasslike blue sedge (Carex glauca), and mounding moss phlox (a good choice on hillsides where mowing is difficult). The Plant Info section at Stepables includes a feature to help you find suitable species according to the amount of foot traffic they will get (and accounts for sun and water needs, as well). With a little searching, you can find a spreading groundcover that gives you the kind of green space that appeals to your sense of style, makes fewer demands on your time—and is easier on the earth.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fort Lauderdale's NE 13 Street to lose 2 lanes

Figure 1 - Example of a Complete Street concept
By Michael Turnbell Sun Sentinel
September 15, 2015
One of the city's major east-west roads is going on a diet next year.
Officials want to transform a four-lane stretch of Northeast 13th Street in the Middle River Terrace neighborhood with on-street parking, bike lanes and improved crosswalks.
To do so means drivers will lose a through lane in each direction between Northeast Fourth and Ninth avenues, just west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.
Construction is set to begin in July 2016 and will take about a year to complete.
A public meeting is set for Wednesday to present concepts for the $2 million project.
The city wants to spur economic development, slow speeding traffic and create a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere similar to what was done on a stretch of Sistrunk Boulevard, which was redesigned with narrower lanes and wider sidewalks.
The project is part of what's called Complete Streets, a national program that rebuilds or retrofits roads to make it easier for people to cross the street and walk to shops, ride their bikes to work or catch a bus.
The city tested the concept for about a week in May by closing off lanes with plastic poles between Dixie Highway and the railroad tracks.
City planner Karen Mendrala said the test slowed traffic and made it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. "Residents were seen biking and skating within the protected outer lane," she said.
Mendrala said businesses near the railroad tracks want the lane reductions extended east of Northeast Ninth Avenue. The city is reviewing whether that's possible with the current funding.
Figure 2 - Example of a Complete Street Concept
Making the lane reductions permanent isn't sitting well with some drivers who use the road as a speedy alternative to congested Sunrise Boulevard a few blocks to the south. The road, which runs from U.S. 1 to Powerline Road, carries about 14,000 vehicles a day.
"The sudden appearance of traffic cones that were apparently delineating new curb installations was quite confusing," said Chris Lovell, of Fort Lauderdale. "Not one person I talked to…felt it was a good idea to limit traffic on such an important cross street for local residents."
But Tim Smith, a former city commissioner and president of the 13th Street Alliance, said the project can't come soon enough.
"It's sure to transform the business portion of 13th from a dangerous, ugly roadway, devoid of almost any community shopping, to just the opposite," Smith said. "Most of those opposing don't want traffic slowed. But to most of us, that's the objective."
Northeast 13th Street was originally a two-lane road but was widened to four lanes in the mid-1970s. Today, it's home to a mix of middle and lower-middle class homes and stores, churches, parking lots and gas stations. Earlier this year, Warsaw Coffee Co., a Seattle-style industrial chic coffeehouse, opened, drawing big crowds.
Activists along 13th Street have been pressing to beautify the area for years.
Several years ago, Fort Lauderdale placed three African statues along Northeast 13th Street as part of a long-sought revitalization effort., 954-356-4155, Twitter @MikeTurnpike, Facebook at